by Troy Osaki
Chinatown-International District on Gentrification
New developers attempt to demolish me without end.
Always prepared with power tools to tear my teahouses apart.
New developers are convinced I have overstayed my welcome,
continue to swing sledgehammers into me as if my dragon archway can collapse,
as if the dynasty in my blood does not date back a millennia.
I do not know what it is to remain a pile of toppled palace.
Once, beyond South King & Maynard, colonizers steamrolled my homeland flat.
Later, my ancestors fled to American pavement to rebuild their groundwork from gravel.
Chinatown, Nihonmachi, Little Saigon.
My hotels were constructed for displacement.
I will not permit my people to be evicted again.
I am unmovable.
I have not been obliterated by any bulldozer since I have been here.
New developers, when you attempt to demolish me next
I will be waiting right here for you.
The Whiteness Exclusion Act
White dean of college justifies racism on campus.
“I am concerned about the oppressed
becoming the oppressors.”
I reimagine the world colonized by people of color.
White culture appropriated by indigenous communities —
birkenstocks, yoga pants, global imperialism.
Donald Trump detained at airport security.
White fiction characters portrayed by actors in whiteface.
Steven Yeun casted as Jack in the Titanic.
His perfect non-white hands frozen
as if unprepared to let go of a love
the Atlantic ocean could not sink.
“Near, far, wherever you are ...”
Pale white boys blamed
for the latest act of domestic terrorism,
for Charleston Church,
White students assumed to own an assault rifle.
The Whiteness Exclusion Act of 1882.
White towns ransacked like home invasion.
White migrants graveyard into ghosts
after buried in bullets.
White families accused of espionage.
Executive Order 9066 passed to imprison
all persons of white heritage.
Europe devoured in atomic bombs.
White lands occupied by foreign military.
White history banned from class
like a book burning.
I imagine how white dean of college
feels redistribution of power is oppression,
a hatchet hungry for blood.
But disrupting racism is not a feast for wounds.
To decenter whiteness
is to unsheathe blade from hacked body,
is to begin dismantling cycles of violence.
Troy Osaki is a Filipino Japanese American writer and performer. He is a Kundiman fellow and a Youth Speaks Seattle alum and mentor. He has competed in national competitions such as Brave New Voices, the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, and the National Poetry Slam. He earned his Juris Doctor degree at the Seattle University School of Law and organizes with Anakbayan, a youth and student movement working to address issues affecting Filipinos in the U.S. and the Philippines. Troy writes in hopes to build a safe and just place to live in by reimagining the world through poetry.